Edith Wharton at Home
Edith Wharton at Home
Life at the Mount
Monacelli Press, Hardcover, 9781580933285, 187pp.
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s country place in the Berkshires, is truly an autobiographical house. There Wharton wrote some of her best-known and successful novels, including Ethan Frome and House of Mirth. The house itself, completed in 1902, embodies principles set forth in Wharton's famous book The Decoration of Houses, and the surrounding landscape displays her deep knowledge of Italian gardens. Wandering the grounds of this historic home, one can see the influence of Wharton’s inimitable spirit in its architecture and design, just as one can sense the Mount’s impact on the extraordinary life of Edith Wharton herself.
The Mount sits in the rolling landscape of the Berkshire Hills, with views overlooking Laurel Lake and all the way out to the mountains. At the turn of the century, Lenox and Stockbridge were thriving summer resort communities, home to Vanderbilts, Sloanes, and other prominent families of the Gilded Age. At once a leader and a recorder of this glamorous society, Edith Wharton stands at the pinnacle of turn of the twentieth-century American literature and social history. The Mount was crucial to her success, and the story of her life there is filled with gatherings of literary figures and artists. Edith Wharton at Home presents Wharton’s life at The Mount in vivid detail with authoritative text by Richard Guy Wilson and archival images, as well as new color photography of the restoration of The Mount and its spectacular gardens.
"The Mount was to give me country cares and joys, long happy rides and drives through the wooded lanes of that loveliest region, the companionship of dear friends, and the freedom from trivial obligations, which was necessary if I was to go on with my writing. The Mount was my first real home . . . its blessed influence still lives in me." —Edith Wharton, 1934
Pauline C. Metcalf is a noted architecture and design historian, as well as the chairman of The Mount's Interior Design Committee. She is the author of "Ogden Codman and The Decoration of Houses" and "Syrie Maugham."
John Arthur is a writer, independent curator, and photographer. Among his publications are "Spirit of Place: Contemporary Landscape Painting & the American Tradition," "Richard Estes: Painting and Prints," "American Realism & Figurative Painting," "Green Woods & Crystal Waters," and "Theophilus Brown: Paintings, Drawings, and Collages." He is currently working on a monograph on Bernard Maybeck.
"Richard Guy Wilson's Edith Wharton at Home...illuminates Wharton’s life at her country house in the Berkshires—'my first real home,' as Wharton called it, having built it to fit her design ideals. The Mount was also the place where she made her first forays into fiction (Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth) and entertained a salon of writers and artists." —Vogue
"For lovers of pre-World War I glamour, for lovers of Henry James and, yes, Downton Abbey, visiting Edith Wharton at Home will very much be, to quote one guest of the Mount, 'a deeply, deliciously delicately luxurious experience'." —World of Interiors
"If you enjoyed Downton Abbey, you'll love John Arthur's scores of full-colour photographs of the house and garden in Massachusetts as it is today, plus the many pictures taken by the family and their guests in decades gone by." —Times Colonist
"Not until reading the handsome new book, Edith Wharton at Home: Life At the Mount (The Monacelli Press), did I understand how intertwined [Wharton's] writing was with her sense of place. Richard Guy Wilson does a masterful job of showing how from 1902 until 1911 Wharton lived, wrote, and entertained a sparkling roster of visitors at The Mount." —Traditional Home
"Wilson’s descriptive narrative leads us through Wharton’s life, loves, and passions while John Arthur’s specially commissioned photographs poetically capture the house (both inside and out) as well as the famous grounds. Of special interest is the development of the grounds and gardens for which Wharton’s niece Beatrix Jones lent a hand between 1901 and 1902." —Judith B. Tankard, The Beatrix Ferrand Society News